Extinct Animals Steller's Sea Cow Part 2

About the now extinct animal species Steller's Sea Cow, history, physical description, location and how the species died out.


Steller's Sea Cow

The creatures' loyalty to each other was also reported by Steller: "When one of them was hooked, all the others were intent upon saving him. Some tried to prevent the wounded comrade from being drawn on the beach by forming a closed circle around him; some attempted to upset the yawl; others laid themselves over the rope or tried to pull the harpoon out of his body, in which indeed they succeeded several times. We also noticed, not without astonishment, that a male came two days in succession to its female which was lying dead on the beach, as if he would inform himself about her condition." The sea cow provided over 7,000 lb. of meat and fat. The flesh tasted like beef, and when the fat was boiled it had the flavor of olive oil, and the men drank it by the cupful. Only one more animal was brought in before a new ship built from the remains of the St. Peter set sail in August, stocked with plenty of dried sea cow meat.

When the men returned to Russia with the pelts of the sea otters they had eaten during the winter, the Russians, traditionally fur traders, promptly set sail for the Bering Sea and the certain profits this new animal's skin would bring. With its sea cows, Bering Island was a popular stop for provisions. The killing was easy, and the meat was delicious after weeks of dried rations. In 1755 a Russian geologist named Jakovlev visited the island searching for copper-mining sites. He realized that the sea cow was headed for extinction and sent a petition to the authorities in Kamchatka Suggesting that legal protection be enacted to save the animals. No response was made by the Russian government. There had been only 1,500 sea cows when the first men came to Bering Island, and 27 years later, in 1768, the final one was harpooned.

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